My Students are Developing Skills that Many Adults Lack

After 2 weeks of focusing on EQAO skills and test writing strategies, we’ve returned to complex problem solving and are now getting to the heart of our learning this year: Integrative Thinking.  I was considering leaving exploration of the Pro-Pro Model until June, however, I observed an encounter between adults recently that left me unsettled and I realize I need to make sure students have time to develop insight about what lies at the heart of Integrative Thinking.

The encounter I observed was typical of many adult interactions.

One person made a statement about attitudes toward professional development based on experiences in the private sector.

The other person who works in the public sector immediately interpreted the comment as judgemental, became angry and attempted to crush the opposing point of view.  It became an argument about entrenched conclusions.  I’m sure if my students were observing it wouldn’t have taken them long to recognize mental models, the ladder of inference and system 1 thinking at play.  There was a lack of awareness in the adults that they were only paying attention to certain information in the data pool, that they were attaching schema to data and making vast assumptions.  There was an inability to recognize that each had a different mental model of  why people pursue PD and that rather than entering into conflict, it would be interesting to explore where value might lie in the other person’s model.

My students are learning to face these kinds of tensions in very different ways.  Tensions are not causes for anger.  They represent opportunities to consider ideas that are different from their own.  Tensions are interesting.  Within tensions lie opportunities to explore  mental models.  Most of all, in tensions lie opportunities to create new ideas.  Integrative Thinking has given my students a toolkit of strategies and processes to work their way through these tensions.  They have skills that allow them to move out of conflict and into solution finding.

As I observed the encounter, I couldn’t help but think how much better off these 2 adults would be if they knew what my students know. My students, haven’t, however had the opportunity yet to resolve a tension using the Pro-Pro Model.  I realize how important it is that they master the technique before they leave my classroom, as they may not encounter it again … and wouldn’t it be a shame to have missed out on what I now consider an essential life skill?

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